The Party Zip

Reader Q&A: Easy Do-Ahead Appetizer Recipes

Posted on: December 16, 2010

Any recommendations for an appetizer recipe that I can take to a mid-week potluck? Something that I can do most of the work ahead of time would be great since I have to work that day.

–Lori K.

I think we can all relate to Lori’s question.  There have been so many times when life is so busy (especially during the holiday season), I can’t even think about what I am serving my kids for dinner on a low-key weekend, let alone make a crowd-pleasing appetizer for a mid-week party!  Here are ten of my quick, go-to appetizers that have been big hits and take just minutes to make or do-ahead of time.  Keep it simple!

Mini Ham/Smoked Turkey, Pear & Gruyere Sandwiches Use favorite bread (I like to both do pumpernickel and a hearty white or a marble rye), cut off crusts and serve halved or quartered triangles.  I have also used holiday-shaped cookie cutters.  Pear cookie cutters are especially cute! It’s nice if you can throw in the oven for 10 minutes to warm/toast, but these are good as is.

Prosciuttto-Wrapped Cantaloupe Slices–Just that.  Plain and simple, yet delish!

Pancakes with Smoked Salmon–Pre-bought potato pancakes or blinis topped with smoked salmon, sour cream, fresh dill and capers.

Cranberry Meatballs–Throw meatballs (any kind) in crockpot with 2 jars of favorite tomato/spaghetti sauce and 1 can of whole berry cranberry sauce), heat until cooked through.

Shrimp and Pea Pods-Cooked shrimp or defrosted frozen cooked shrimp (even easier!) marinated in lime juice, coriander and garlic for a few hours to a day ahead of time in fridge then skewered on toothpicks with steamed and chilled ahead-of-time pea pods. You stick one end of pea pod on toothpick, then shrimp, then wrap peapod over shrimp and skewer other end of peapod.

Cucumber Cups with Crab Meat-Cream Cheese–Cut three cucumbers into 1 1/2-2 inch chunks and hollow out centers. Mix about 1/2 lb. crab meat, fresh dill and softened cream cheese to fill into centers.  Garnish with small sprigs of dill.

Pesto Palmiers (bring to party pre-assembled on cookie sheets and bake in oven)

Baked Pita Chips and Tzatziki Dip–Split open large pita breads and cut into chip-sized triangles.  Brush with olive oil or spray with olive oil cooking spray.  Sprinkle mixture of sea salt, fresh black pepper, garlic powder and oregano on pita chips and bake in 375 degree oven for 10-15 minutes until crisp.  When cool, store in plastic bag.  For dip, combine sour cream, salt and pepper, fresh dill and/or fresh mint (I like to combine), 1 large finely chopped cucumber, and lots of chopped fresh garlic (to taste).  Serve with pita chips.

Gorgonzola-Walnut Stuffed Dates–Split dates lengthwise.  Toast walnuts.  Combine creamy-style Gorgonzola cheese with walnuts (cooled) and fill dates.

Caprese Salad on a Stick–Skewer cherry tomatoes (if you can get them, multi-colored heirloom variety make for a prettier presentation), mozzarella balls and fresh basil on toothpicks.  Place on serving platter and drizzle with good-quality olive oil.  Salt and pepper to taste.

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2 Responses to "Reader Q&A: Easy Do-Ahead Appetizer Recipes"

I once had a friend that used to make a recipe similar to that Gorgonzola-Walnut Stuffed Dates recipe you listed, only it was wrapped in bacon… and served warm. Probably the best thing I’ve EVER tasted. I’m guessing it is still a 9.5 out of 10 even without the bacon.

I have had it wrapped in bacon too–with goat cheese, I think. Yummo! But, for simplicity sake, I omitted the bacon in this recipe. I suppose you can bring the bacon with you to the party and just wrap it there, but seems like a pain. Definitely would serve it wrapped in bacon if I was the one hosting!

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